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International Olympic Committee lifts ban on Russian athletes
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 28, 2018: Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (C) poses for a photo with athletes after a ceremony to present Russian medallists of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics with BMW cars. Alexander Astafyev/Russian Government Press Office/TASS (Photo by Alexander Astafyev\TASS via Getty Images)

International Olympic Committee lifts ban on Russian athletes

The International Olympic Committee announced today that  Russian athletes will now be allowed to compete in future Olympic games. Although two members of Team Russia tested positive for drugs during the 2018 Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, the tests of the other 168 came back clean, so the ban on Russian Olympians has been lifted.

According to the official statement from the International Olympic Committee, “The IOC can confirm that all the remaining results are negative. Therefore, as stated in the Executive Board decision of 25th February the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee is automatically lifted with immediate effect.”

The two Russian Olympians who tested positive for a banned substance had competed in curling (Alexander Krushelnitsky) and bobsledding (Nadezhda Sergeeva). The Russian curler and his wife, who competed as his curling partner, voluntarily handed back their bronze medals after his test came back. Ironically, Sergeeva had worn an “I don’t do doping” t-shirt during a promotional video for the Olympics.

Russian athletes were banned from competing in the Olympic games after tests revealed that forty-three of them had been taking banned drugs before competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Russians also manipulated the anti-doping system to ensure that their cheating would go undetected. In a statement from December 2017 addressing the ban, IOC President Thomas Bach called the incident “an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.” Russia sent 232 athletes in total to the Sochi Olympics.

Russia has denied that its government was involved in this doping scandal.

According to Reuters, the World Anti-Doping Agency released a statement on Wednesday stating that “as it has not yet met the necessary criteria of RUSADA’s (Russian Anti-Doping Agency‘s) Roadmap to Compliance, following Russia’s proven systemic manipulation of the doping control process.”

While the athletes accused of doping at Sochi not invited back by the IOC, Russia was allowed to send other athletes to compete as a neutral “Olympic Athlete from Russia” team. However, they could not wear Russian uniforms or have their anthem played during ceremonies. With the ban lifted, the uniforms and anthem can return for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

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